Chapter 5: Shadowland strategy: How non-state armed actors navigate between national laws and international law
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Non-state armed actors (NSAAs) reside in a ‘shadowland’ between legality and illegality. They are legal subjects of international law but are considered outlaws under some national legal systems. The legal tension causes NSAAs to adopt a diverse set of strategies. Some NSAAs contest the rules that govern their behaviour from within the existing international legal system. Others reject international and domestic legal systems completely and try to create their own ‘clearland’ where they can legitimize their own rules and regulations. A third set of NSAAs chooses to remain silent, or are silenced by exclusionary government policies. This chapter sketches these shadowland strategies with ample examples across the globe. The variety of shadowland strategies has implications for violence reduction as well as the international engagement with violent actors around the world.

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